Use of the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey: A Systematic Review

Am J Prev Med. 2023 Jul;65(1):131-142. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2023.02.008. Epub 2023 Mar 27.


Introduction: The Nutrition Environment Measurement Survey (NEMS) measures were developed to assess the consumer food environment in stores and restaurants. NEMS tools have been widely used in research and adapted for diverse settings and populations in the 15 years since they were created. This systematic review examines the use and adaptations of these measures and what can be learned from published studies using NEMS tools.

Methods: A comprehensive search of bibliographic databases was conducted from 2007 to September 2021, supplemented by backward searches and communications with authors, to identify research articles using NEMS tools. Data on purpose, key findings, sample characteristics, NEMS characteristics, and modifications were abstracted. Articles were categorized on the basis of study goals, NEMS tool(s) used, variables measured, and common themes.

Results: A total of 190 articles from 18 countries were identified. Most studies (69.5%, n=123) used a modified version of NEMS tools. There were 23 intervention studies that used measures from NEMS tools or adaptations as outcomes, moderators, or process assessments. A total of 41% (n=78) of the articles evaluated inter-rater reliability, and 17% (n=33) evaluated test-retest reliability.

Discussion: NEMS measures have played an important role in the growth of research on food environments and have helped researchers to explore the relationships among healthy food availability, demographic variables, eating behaviors, health outcomes, and intervention-driven changes in food environments. The food environment is constantly changing, so NEMS measures should continue to evolve. Researchers should document data quality of modifications and use in new settings.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements
  • Food Supply
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Restaurants*